Ride report 2: from the Alps to the Pyrenees
Monday 9 July: Rest Day 1
Q: What do you do on your first rest day when you’re cycling the Tour de France one day ahead?
A: Watch other people cycling, of course!
A relaxing day spent in Arc et Senans watching the pros warm up and set off on the Time Trial… Couldn’t miss Wiggo in his yellow skin suit! Then a good opportunity for some extra pummelling from Lisa. Think they’re all agreed about what a difference it’s made having her as part of the One Day Ahead support team.
Tuesday 10 July: Stage 10 Mâcon – Bellegarde sur Valserine
The fab four had to grit their teeth this morning knowing they were to face the uncategorised climb of the Col du Grand Colombier – but not until they’d already pedalled over 130km. ‘Brutal’ – Jamie’s adjective – it certainly was. Tired legs took their toll on everyone – but by the time they were on the descent, they had also passed the halfway marker for the entire Tour, and that’s enough to lift anyone’s spirits, isn’t it?
Wednesday 11 July: Stage 11 Albertville – La Toussuire
Today’s adjective, selected by Mick, was ‘gruesome’. Well, he freely admits he’s not built like a climber, but even seasoned grimpeurs would draw a deep breath at the prospect of this unrelenting series of four stiff climbs. Not the longest stage at 148km but inch for inch probably the slowest so far. So what happened? Well, they just got stuck in, climbed at their own pace, waited for each other at the bottom of each descent and somehow, 7.5 hours later, reached La Toussuire. Chapeau!
Thursday 12 July: Stage 12 Saint Jean de Maurienne – Annonay Davézieux
The longest stage of the entire Tour at 226km, with two Category 1 climbs in the first 80km. (The following day Cav remarked that the first half of this stage was ‘as close to hell as you can get’!) Hardly surprising then that the team ‘grovelled’ (Mick’s word!) up the Col du Granier. With the descent out of the way, they hit a psychological low, the first time they’d really felt the One Day Ahead challenge could get the better of them. It was 4pm CET and there was still nearly 140km to cycle… But somehow they picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, and managed to average 35kph over the next 110km, after which they ‘flew up’ the Category 3 Côte d’Ardoix and rolled over the finish line with a collective sigh of relief.
Friday 13 July: Stage 13 Saint Paul Trois Châteaux – le Cap d’Agde
A very different stage – mainly pretty flat, but with strong headwinds to contend with along the coast and blistering sunshine bearing down on the riders. (Adnan well in the lead, apparently, in the tan lines competition.) Mick put in some big turns on the front and the completion of this particular stage meant two-thirds of the total distance was now behind them…
This might be a good point to mention FOOD! Just in case anyone was wondering, yes they have been stopping en route to re-fuel. Great logistical work by the support team to make sure sandwiches, pizza, energy drinks and bars were available in the motor homes at the rendezvous points. Forget the distant figure waving a musette – look out for the mobile diners!
Saturday 14 July: Stage 14 Limoux – Foix
The Alps were tough… but then came the Pyrenees. Certainly the worst day yet as far as the weather was concerned, this stage really was horrific. For a start, there were the headwinds, the lashing rainstorms, poor visibility and chilling temperatures. Jamie and Adnan had a crash (no injuries, thanks goodness) and Adnan broke a wheel. And then there was The Wall… the 1,375m Mur de Péguère which boasts some 18% gradients. But hey, the end is in sight: one more week and Jamie, Chris Adnan and Mick should be negotiating the mad Parisian traffic. Surely that’s a thought to keep you going for six more stages…